Music and Mayhem

While performing onstage in front of thousands of screaming fans might come with being a rock star, headlining acts were once only local bands too.

Even the most famous of groups started out with but a few dozen fans, playing small gigs, with second-rate equipment.

At this year’s Extreme Thing annual concert and sports festival, however, local bands have gotten the chance to show off their talent on a special stage.

Taking place Saturday at Desert Breeze Park, Extreme Thing boasts punk veterans Pennywise, rising local rockers Escape The Fate, as well as hard-edged favorites such as Chiodos, Streetlight Manifesto, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and many others.

But this time, those big name acts are not the only ones performing.

For the first time, music site hosted a "Battle of the Fans" contest.

Local bands were given the chance to showcase their sound in the weeks prior to Extreme Thing at a series of shows at Jillian’s, and fans voted on who they wanted to play at the event.

The preliminaries began Feb. 13, and competitions were held on each successive Wednesday through last week.

Each night, six to nine local bands were given the opportunity to play up to 20 minutes of music (or four songs). Bands were awarded five points per advance ticket sold, one point per walk-up ticket sale, and one point per online vote.

Of the 80 groups that competed, seven were selected to play the Xpoz stage at Extreme Thing. The winners are Val-halla, Think, The Seventh Plague, This Romantic Tragedy, The Countdown, Ministry of Love and Eyes Like Diamonds.

The top winner of the contest was emotive rock troupe This Romantic Tragedy, which scored 2,537 votes and will perform as a headlining band at Extreme Thing.

"It’s an amazing feeling," says the band’s rhythm guitarist, Kyle Huender. "We’ve been jumping off the walls ever since we found out. Playing the Extreme Thing will benefit us a ton. Not only will we grow a larger fan base, but there will also be some national acts whose attention we might be able to catch."

But whether they won or not, for many local bands, this was an excellent way to jump-start their careers.

And it didn’t just benefit the bands who participated.

"The competition benefits the entire Las Vegas local scene," says Drew Knight, bassist of Burning Season, a local group that participated in the event. "All the bands are trying as hard as they’ve ever tried before in order to get the most attention in the given time period. This means they play harder, tell more people, and do nearly anything possible to enhance their chances. This is good, because when everyone hears about the event, that many more people show up and participate in what the local scene has to offer."

The more recognition bands receive locally, the more readily label scouts will check out the acts and set them up for a bigger career.

All bands start off locally, but it’s up to fans to spread their name and help get them recognized.

"Honestly, our fans deserve it," says Eyes Like Diamonds lead guitarist Mason Wright. "They have been so supportive throughout this competition, as well as the start of Eyes. We really owe it to them."

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